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8 Hallmarks of Attractional and Gospel-Centered Churches

8 Hallmarks of Attractional and Gospel-centered Churches

Went on a bit of a Twitter run yesterday with some thoughts on the essential defining characteristics of the church model I call attractional, followed by some constructive alternative hallmarks of gospel-centered churches. Hopefully they will bring more clarity to thinking through the relevant issues in evangelical ecclesiology. These are important times to get this sorted.

Unfortunate hallmarks of the attractional church:

1) Sermons driven by what Christian Smith calls “moralistic therapeutic deism”

2) Functional ideology of pragmatism (Not “what’s biblical?” but “what works?”)

3) Truncating of the gospel or relegation of the gospel to background/afterthought

4) Equation of bigness with success, contrary to numerous biblical examples otherwise

5) Treating membership solely or mainly as a means of assimilating volunteers

6) Wide open back door for those needing to be discipled beyond conversion

7) Reduction of the Bible to a source for good quotes

8) Claiming relevance/innovation while insulating from critical challenges to assumptions

Hallmarks of gospel-centered churches:

1) Trust not just in authority of Scripture but sufficiency of Scripture

2) Sermons that emphasize “It is finished!” over “Get to work!” Jesus is the star, not a bit player

3) Meaningful membership encompassing whole-life discipleship, pastoral care and church discipline

4) Emphasis on members as missionaries & emphasizing “go and tell” over “come and see”

5) A total trust in the gospel to be the power of transformation that no amount of inspiration can be

6) Regular commitment to the Lord’s Supper

7) Reliance on robustness of the gospel to apply to the believer, justification & sanctification

8) Church as community of saints, not merely a worship service or resource center for programs

(I’ve expanded on all this stuff and a lot more—and offer some constructive correctives—in The Prodigal Church)

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Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, Director of the Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church, and author of numerous books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, The Prodigal Church, The Imperfect Disciple, and Supernatural Power for Everyday People. A frequent preacher and speaker at churches and conferences, you can visit him online at jaredcwilson.com or follow him on Twitter.